Career Profile: Jered Weaver
Per reader request, here is a Career Profile of Los Angeles Angels right-hander Jered Weaver.
The younger brother of major league pitcher Jeff Weaver, Jered was a three-year starter at Long Beach State from 2002 to 2004, with outstanding sophomore (14-4, 1.96, 144/20 K/BB) and junior (15-1, 1.63 ERA, 213/21 K/BB) seasons. Most draft observers rated him the top prospect in the 2004 draft, but he had aggressive bonus demands and fell to 12th overall, where he was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels.
He held out and didn't sign until a week before the 2005 draft, winning a $4 million bonus. He began his pro career with Rancho Cucamonga in the California League, posting a 3.82 ERA with a 49/7 K/BB in 33 innings and 25 hits allowed. Moved up to Double-A Arkansas in late July, he posted a 3.98 ERA with a 46/19 K/BB in 43 innings with 43 hits.
Scouting reports, while positive, were not extraordinary at the time. His command and ability to throw strikes was praised, but scouts noted that his velocity was often just in the 80s, less than expected, that his breaking stuff was solid rather than excellent, and that he sometimes lost composure on the mound. I still gave him a Grade B+ in the 2006 book, ranking him as the Number 21 pitching prospect in baseball and projecting him as a number two or strong number three starter.
Weaver split 2006 between Triple-A Salt Lake (6-1, 2.10 in 11 starts, 93/10 K/BB in 77 IP, 73 hits) and Los Angeles, where he went 11-2, 2.56 with a 105/33 K/BB in 123 innings with 94 hits allowed, an outstanding rookie season. He had a few glitches in 2007 and 2008, but began to take off in 2009. Last year he was outstanding, with a 3.01 ERA, FIP and a 233/54 K/BB in 224 innings. As you know, he's currently leading the American League with nine wins, has a 2.01 ERA, a 184 ERA+, and a 102/27 K/BB in 116 innings this year with just 80 hits allowed. Although his FIP this year at 2.49 is a half-run better than last year's 3.06 mark, his xFIP is actually a tad worse this year, 3.42 compared to 3.32. In any event, he's been excellent over the last year and a half, despite winning "just" 13 games last year.
Overall, in 1012 career innings over 160 starts, Weaver is 73-43, with a 3.37 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 4.04 xFIP, 127 ERA+, and a WAR of 22.5.
Weaver's fastball velocity varies between 86 and 95 MPH. He mixes his pitches extremely well, alternating his heater with a changeup, slider, and curveball. Fangraphs rates all of the pitches in his arsenal as very strong offerings according to pitch values. His control is excellent, and he's been eating innings very effectively over the last two and a half years without injury troubles.
His Sim Scores through age 27 are interesting: Jim Bunning, Steve Busby, Dan Haren, Roy Halladay, Kevin Millwood, Mike Flanagan, Billy Loes, Steve Blass, Scott Sanderson, and Matt Morris are the top ten, all with Sim Scores above 950. Bunning turned into a Hall of Famer, and Halladay is on his way. The presence of injury casualty Steve Busby and the fast fade of Matt Morris are a bit disturbing, but both of them had already shown durability problems by age 27 that Weaver has avoided. Baseball Prospectus comps include Roy Oswalt-2007, Dan Haren again-2010, Daisuke Matsuzaka-2010 (eek), and Josh Beckett-2009. The presence of Haren on both lists is intriguing, but of course we don't know exactly how his career will turn out yet either.
My personal take is that 2011 is probably his career year, but Weaver is likely to stay healthy through his early 30s at least, which of course means he'll probably blow his arm out next week since I wrote that. Snark aside, he's performed over the last two years at the upper edge of the expected outcome when he was a prospect, though the shape of that success (great K/BB ratios, good K-rates) is as anticipated.